Joplin tornado as deadly as Flint

Published 7:27 am Tuesday, May 24, 2011

August marks two years since former Dowagiac residents Phil and Connie Lang moved back to their native Missouri after National Copper Products closed, throwing him out of his job here after four years.

The Langs, originally from northern Missouri, live a few miles outside Joplin, reeling from one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history Sunday, which killed at least 116 people — the most since 1953 in Flint.

“It’s terrible,” Connie said Monday evening. “Everything we know is not there anymore,” including, presumably, a duplex where they used to live on 33rd Street in the mile-wide path of the F-5 twister packing 198-mph winds which unroofed a hospital and the high school.

Like most Americans, her impressions were formed by televised images because the aftermath sealed off all access to Joplin.

Connie said she was waiting for Phil to come home from work at the General Dynamics plant east of Joplin.

The plant closed Monday because so many workers were missing or affected, but her husband still had to report for duty as head of maintenance for what is an “explosives plant” which destroys military surplus.

Joplin is situated in southwest Missouri, almost to Oklahoma and about 290 miles southwest of St. Louis.